When Bafana Bafana kick-off their 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign against Mali in a Group E game this evening (8pm, 10pm SA Time), the experience of a technical bench that has lifted this trophy will weigh in heavily.
Bafana head coach Hugo Broos says he dreams of winning his second continental title. Speaking to the media on Monday at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo, north of Côte d’Ivoire, the venue for Group E games, Broos was fielding a question of having won the 2017 AFCON title with Cameroon and his assistant Helman Mkhalele, a member of the maiden AFCON title-winning squad in 1996 on home soil.
“You know once you win it, you want to win it twice. It’s a fantastic feeling winning an AFCON. I said that already before and I’m a European but the intensity and the joy and everything around winning an AFCON is unique. So, it was a fantastic experience six years ago and you can be sure that I dream to do it the second time but saying is much easier than doing. So, let’s start tomorrow [tonight] and do our best then we will see where we arrive,” Broos said.
Bafana had a good showing in the 2019 edition in Egypt, knocking out the hosts in the last 16 before losing to Nigeria in the quarterfinals. This puts pressure on Broos and his team to not only get out of the group stages but also match or better the 2019 performance. The Belgian-born head coach armed with the experience from six years ago in Gabon, knows what to expect in this tournament.
“It’s special hey, I did it six years ago and for me as a European it was a unique experience. It’s the joy, celebration around the field is never trouble. Sometimes a little bit different than Europe with supporters. So, for them it’s a fantastic event but also for us as coaches and as players. So, now again I’m looking forward to start tomorrow and to have again those experience I had six years ago and let’s hope with the same result,” Broos added.
This will be the first meeting between Mali and Bafana Bafana at the AFCON since 2013 when “The Eagles” eliminated a Gordon Igesund coached team in the quarterfinals on penalties in Durban. Mali had also eliminated Bafana on penalties in Bamako in the 2002 edition, as Broos assesses this strong Malian team.
“As I said already, Mali is a very good team. We have a lot of information about them. With modern technique you can have what you want, so, we are well prepared. We know their weaknesses but we also know the strong points of their team and as I said in the beginning it’s a very tough team but we are ready and we will see how the game will go,” he concluded.
Source: SABC Sport